“Guess what happened today in health class, Mom? It’s really bad, but don’t freak out,” says my son. All I can think is, “Did the teacher hand out condoms?” Oh to be so lucky.
Instead, my son tells about a senior student bursting into the classroom, frantically speaking Spanish to their teacher. The office is called. Paper is put up over the window to cover it, and the door is locked. With the panicked senior inside the class with them. Students who speak Spanish catch bits and pieces of the conversation... “gang fight.... they’re after me... waiting outside...”
As my son talks, my mouth hangs open. I’m speechless. My son laughs nervously. “So yeah. It was bad.” I fire off questions to clarify:
“How long until the police showed up?” They didn’t.
“How about school administration?” Like forever. Maybe 30 minutes after the call. The student left before they even got there.
“Were you scared?” No. We didn’t know what was going on.
“What were all the students doing while this happened?” Just sitting there, wondering what was going on.
“So how did it end?” The principal came in and grabbed the kid’s back pack and told us the situation was handled.
“So, let me get this straight. An emotionally upset senior student bursts into your classroom, talks with your teacher for most of the period while you are held hostage, and the only thing said is ‘the situation is handled?’” Pretty much. Oh, and the teacher says that he was so scared he was shaking.
Speechless again. Mouth gaping.
I tend to be a bit of an over-reactor, so I attempt to process in my head first, instead of out loud like usual. But then I talk to my husband. His reaction?
“Well, what are the chances of that ever happening twice? We can cross that off the bucket list! “ as he makes a big check mark in the air. I’m not amused. The last time he said that, our new home was vandalized. Twice. Bad argument, Harris.
The Helicopter Mom in me cannot rest. I email the counselor to say, “I’m freaking out here, can you calm me down?” I wait for a response.
I send my son to school the next morning with these instructions: “If something like that happens again, text me, and I will call 911. Be aware of your surroundings.” I find myself driving by the high school campus again, to “hover.”
The phone rings. It’s the principal. The information he gives is somewhat helpful but not satisfying: “It’s possible the senior student made up the severity of his predicament. But, it might be true. Police were called. They dealt with it. Probably the teacher should have just called 911 in the first place,” he informs me. Ya think???? Says Helicopter Mom in her head, thank God.
After every school shooting or some similar devastating incident, we hear these words, “Warning signs were overlooked.” And these are words I just can’t hear right now. Because this is MY kid. How about we DON’T overlook the warning signs? How about we take them seriously?
But what, exactly, did I want the teacher to do? He already did it! He called for help. He locked the door and covered the window. He did what he could to protect the students.
There’s a bigger issue I must wrestle with today.
How will I choose to raise my children in this dangerous and scary world where horrible things will happen, and they might even lose their lives? Is my first job to protect them from all harm, or is it to teach them that the God of angel armies resides in them, and they have power to move mountains in His name, a power stronger than any power that is in the world? Am I teaching them FIRST to be warriors for Christ? Or, do I pull them out of the world and say, “it’s just too scary” and I first must keep them safe?
Because I could SO do that. I could keep them home and canvas the house in bubble wrap. And they would be somewhat safe... at least from that one incident of being shot on a school campus. And then I could pull the plug on technology and keep them from Miley Cyrus videos and the like. And they would be somewhat safe. And I could install alarms in the house to keep out crime and warn us of fires and carbon monoxide fumes. And I could feed them whole foods grown on a farm in Pennsylvania, not immunize, and not use chemical products in our home. And they would be somewhat safe. But I will neither confirm nor deny the implementation of any of these principles in my home. As I sit here, I check my phone for texts from my son, in case I need to call 911.
Oh how badly I want to hide my kids at home and hover! To teach them the truth of God’s Word in the “safety” of their own home! And it hits me:
Jodi, I’ve given you these to children to train them for spiritual battle, not the barracks. A battle that is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Eph. 6:12) Remember, the One who is in them is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)
Jodi, you’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)
And I realize, by hiding under a bucket and in the barracks, the world misses out on my kids and all the joy and love and Christlikeness they bring. Who doesn’t get to know the love of Christ because that love is hiding in a bubble wrapped house down the street?
What if God placed my son in that very moment to reveal His presence? What if, in fact, through my son, God was allowed in the midst of a dark and evil situation? What if, instead of shrouding him in bubble wrap, I covered him in prayer and clothed him in the Armor of God? In the midst of hovering over my child, God hovers over Him with a protection I can never give.
I cannot fathom the pain of those who have lost loved ones in horrific evil incidents on school campuses and the like. Who can understand the mind of God when bad things happen to good people? I can only trust His promises and truths given me in this moment, as I actively prepare for this spiritual battle on my life and the lives of my family.
And while I desperately want to invest in stock in bubble wrap, buy a farm out east and even become a “doomsday prepper,” I pray for strength to stand firm and trust His words. And who knows, maybe next time I’ll be blessed to write about “the day the health teacher handed out condoms.”